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Seoul to Supply N.Korea With Foreign Rice
Korea Times
The Seoul government will send 100,000 tons of rice from its ports to North Korea by the end of this month. The shipment is part of 400,000 tons the government promised Pyongyang in the annual rice assistance earlier this year.

An official at the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry said that the plan was finalized through consultations with the Unification Ministry. The remaining 300,000 tons will be purchased from overseas and shipped to the North directly starting at the end of August.

``We will continue to mark the rice packaging to say they are from South Korea,’’ he said.

Last year, the government purchased the entire shipment of 400,000 tons of rice from the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation (NACF) at the cost of 760 billion won. However, the government decided not to use domestic rice in consideration of a dip in stockpiles due to poor harvests last year.

Despite the almost-same amount of the rice aid, this year’s purchases will cost the government about 313 billion won, less than half of last year’s costs, thanks to the low price of foreign rice.

The bill will be paid from the government’s Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund and stabilization funds for grain prices, the Agriculture Ministry reported to the National Assembly. The grain assistance is provided in the form of a long-term loan to the North.

The ministry is still biding its time to decide which country it will purchase rice from in order to gain the most favorable conditions, a ministry official told The Korea Times.

Although South Korea is forecast to keep 976,000 tons of rice stockpiles by October this year, it is normal considering the recommended rice stockpiles amount by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, the official added.

The government also plans to supply the North with a $24 million shipment of 100,000 tons, most in corn, through the World Food Programme
MGR Archive 8.7.2004
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